Chocolate cake, apple pie, and frosted brownies are delicious! Unfortunately, what we really like and what is really nutritious seldom go hand in hand. Interestingly, this phenomenon is not particular to humans. When it comes to laying hens the feeds they prefer are not the ones that will make them the most productive.
Chickens love to eat “scratch grain” (cracked corn, oats, and wheat mixed together) and when given a choice will favor it over laying mash, pellets, and crumbles. The problem is that hens need at least 16% protein to lay well, and scratch grain is only about 11% protein. Most laying rations are 16%-20% protein and should be fed free choice to hens. If scratch grain is also provided it should be in very limited amounts (a rough guideline is one cup scratch per fifteen hens twice a day). Scratch should not be placed in a feeder but scattered over the bedding for confined birds and around the yard for free range birds.
If your hens are not laying up to par the first thing to check is their diet!
By: Jim Quinn, Resident Poulty Expert